Steve Jobs’s former right-hand woman, Joanna Hoffman, who has been in the eye of Silicon Valley long enough to see multiple generations of geniuses exerting their whim over technology—and thus, society—has unleashed a scathing attack on Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
For decades Hoffman was one of Steve Jobs’s most trusted confidants. She joined Apple in 1980 as the fifth person on the Macintosh team and was highly regarded by Jobs for her skills in product marketing. She even left Apple and joined Jobs at Next when he was forced from the company. But while Hoffman has been revered in tech circles for decades, her name only became more common to people outside the industry thanks to the Steve Jobs movie in which she was portrayed by actor Kate Winslet.
But in a recent talk, Hoffman turned her focus from reflecting on her work with Apple and Jobs in the 20th century and shifted to not mincing words about one of the most powerful tech companies in the 21st century. As CNBC reports, responding to a question at the 2020 CogX conference about the cult of leadership in technology and the resulting egos from those that head world-changing companies, Hoffman wondered if some of today’s leaders are “motivated by something . . . darker than what appears.”
She specifically called out Facebook, in light of the misinformation and strife the company’s platform seems to thrive on. Hoffman argued there were elements of Facebook that are “destroying the very fabric of democracy, destroying the very fabric of human relationships, and peddling in an addictive drug called anger.” She went on to liken Facebook to a drug dealer, saying:
You know it’s just like tobacco, it’s no different than the opioids. We know anger is addictive, we know we can attract people to our platform and get engagement if we get them p—-d off enough. So therefore what, we should capitalize on that each and every time?
Of course, Hoffman isn’t alone in her assertion that Facebook is an enabler of harmful tendencies, much like drug dealers. In recent years, executives from Facebook’s past have argued the very same.